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CHICAGO -- Jeff Suppan was very good on the mound Friday afternoon, but he wasn't fast enough on the basepaths.
Suppan allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, but was thrown out at home plate as he tried to score the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. It was the closest the Brewers got to scoring over the final six frames, as Cubs third baseman Jake Fox worked a bases-loaded walk from Mark DiFelice with two outs in the 10th, and the Cubs celebrated a 2-1 win in front of 41,204 at Wrigley Field.
"It was a tremendous game," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "It's a shame it has to end like that."
Two close calls sent the Brewers to their third straight loss. With the teams knotted at 1, Suppan was out at home in the seventh thanks to a pinpoint throw by Cubs center fielder Kosuke Fukudome. In the 10th, Fox fouled off four consecutive pitches from DiFelice (4-1) before looking at a borderline ball four.
The last call was so close that DiFelice had to ask umpire Bill Welke where his pitch missed. Welke said he saw it high.
"I saw the replay, and it looked like a strike to me. I think he missed it, and that's the ballgame," said DiFelice, who suffered his first Major League loss in his 47th appearance. "I shouldn't have put us in that situation. I should have pitched better."
The Brewers haven't been able to get the bats going during their three-game mini-slump. After dropping the finale of their homestand to the Mets, 1-0, on Wednesday, Milwaukee hitters are 4-for-22 with runners in scoring position and have stranded 20 men on base in two games against the Cubs.
They had a number of opportunities on Friday against Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano, who dueled Suppan through seven innings. Milwaukee's first two hitters reached base in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, but the result was only one run.
That lone tally scored in a fourth inning that should have been better. Craig Counsell and Ryan Braun singled, and Prince Fielder was hit by a Zambrano pitch to load the bases with nobody out, but Casey McGehee hit a foul popup on the first pitch and Mike Cameron did the same on Zambrano's second pitch. Corey Hart salvaged a run by drawing an RBI walk before J.J. Hardy hit an inning-ending groundout.
"I think they were a little overanxious," Macha said, referring to McGehee and Cameron.
With the game tied at 1, the Brewers put two men on again to start the sixth but came up empty. In the seventh, Suppan led off with a single, and Jason Kendall reached on an error. Counsell tried twice to bunt the runners over but pushed both attempts foul before striking out. Braun followed with a lineout that could have been a sacrifice fly if there were a runner on third, leaving the Brewers 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Fielder finally snapped the slump with a sharp single to center field, but Fukudome made a perfect throw home.
"I wish I was a little bit faster, to be honest with you," Suppan said. "I was never really gifted with speed, and I just tried to get there. I'm trying to slide, and I didn't really know how to slide. From what I understand, it was a good throw.
"I ran as fast as I could. The bottom line is I'm really not that fast, and it was a good throw."
Third-base coach Brad Fischer's decision to wave the pitcher home was an easy one, according to Macha.
"You have to go," Macha said. "When the ball was hit to right-center, I thought, 'He's going to make it.' It was bang-bang. Perfect throw."
"Koyie [Hill, the Cubs' catcher] told me after that play that it was good it was Suppan running and not Mike Cameron or any other speedy guy," Zambrano said. "When that ball was hit, I thought it was a chance to take him out at the plate. 'Fuku' made a strong throw and got him at the plate. It was an exciting play."
The Brewers had one more prime opportunity in the ninth, when Cubs right fielder Milton Bradley lost Kendall's fly ball in the sun. The ball struck Bradley in the right forearm, and Kendall was granted a two-out double by the official scorer. Counsell reached on a hit-by-pitch, but Braun popped out to end the inning.
"You go 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, you're not going to win many games like that," Macha said.
The quiet offense left Suppan saddled with a tough-luck no-decision. With a strong wind blowing in, he and Zambrano dueled to a draw, each starter allowing one run in seven innings. It was arguably Suppan's best start since he worked seven scoreless innings in a May 16 win at St. Louis.
"It is important to get in good rhythm, and today, for the most part, I felt like I had that," Suppan said. "The bottom line comes back to executing pitches."
He surrendered his only run in the fifth inning, when Zambrano lined a single to center field that tied the game. It wasn't a good pitch, Suppan said.
"We were throwing some sinkers in and trying to get him to hit a ground ball," Suppan said. "It was up. I never looked at him as a pitcher. I think he hits pretty well."
Cubs closer Kevin Gregg (3-2) notched the win after escaping the Brewers' rally in the ninth inning and pitching a perfect 10th.
The Brewers escaped the ninth inning thanks to a nifty double play, but DiFelice wasn't as lucky in the 10th. Ryan Theriot sparked the winning rally with a one-out single that grazed second baseman Counsell's glove, then took second base on a wild pitch and third on a flyout. DiFelice intentionally walked slumping slugger Bradley and pinch-hitter Geovany Soto to load the bases for Fox.
"For a guy that prides himself as a control pitcher, the toughest thing is to lose the game with a walk-off walk," DiFelice said.